Parties stop RET talks, leave sector less certain
UPDATE 13/11: Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has issued an official press release slamming the Labor Party for giving up on the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
“It’s disappointing that the Opposition has chosen to put politics ahead of policy and betray the renewable energy sector by abandoning negotiations on the RET,” Macfarlane’s statement claims.
“The Government approached negotiations with the Opposition in good faith... But the Labor Party has offered little in return.
“The RET is not operating as intended... Australia’s total demand for electricity is falling and what was intended to be a 20% target is now tracking towards 27% by 2020,” he said.
ORIGINAL: Labor has abandoned negotiations on the renewable energy target (RET), saying there was “no prospect of reaching an agreement” with the Abbott Government.
Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler sent a letter to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane this week, ending the discussions aimed at restoring support for the renewable energy policy from both the major parties.
“Considering the Government's fundamental position remains a 40 per cent cut to the RET, I do not see there being any value in continuing discussions at this point in time,” the letter says.
The Government is trying to reduce its obligation to supply 20 per cent of Australia’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
It is understood that the sticking point in the talks remains the differing definitions of a “real 20 per cent” reduction, as the Government looks to cut the agreed target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of baseline power by 2020 to about 26,000 gigawatt hours.
The 41,000 gigawatt hours figure is equal to twenty per cent of Australia’s energy demand in 2000, but the Government argues that as demand has dropped, so too should the target.
Reports say Labor was willing to see the figure reduced to the mid-to-high thirty-thousands, so as to save money while restoring investment certainty for the clean energy industry.
Australia’s $20 billion alternative energy sector has been bathed in uncertainty since the target review started.
Optimism was not helped by the review being headed by businessman and climate sceptic Dick Warburton.
Clean energy companies have been relying on bipartisan support to back their investment bids.
Mr Butler has told Fairfax Media that giving up talks would not return certainty either, but that the gap between the LNP and ALP on the clean energy policy was too far to bridge.